Wedding Expenses: Where To Splurge, Where To Scrimp

We all would like to avoid the word “budget” while planning our wedding, but there are easy ways to cut expenses down to a more manageable amount.

If money were no object, no couple would ever have to think about the “B” word—Budget—when planning their nuptials. But for most of us, money does figure into our decisions when it comes to weddings. So we asked Westchester-based wedding planner Lauren Malang Stanco of LCR Events, for her advice on where to save and where to splurge on the long list of wedding expenses.

What to Splurge On:

1. Videographer. “This is the one item I tell brides to spend money on if they can. I cherish my wedding video and feel it is even more special than my photographs. My kids love to watch it now and see my husband and I before they were even born! It is also fun to have the videographer interview your guests at the wedding or rehearsal dinner and have them send you a personal message. Some photographers will offer a special package, which includes video. If you have room in your budget, I would definitely recommend it.”

2. Photo Booth. “Having a photo booth is a really fun way to get pictures of all the guests at your wedding. Many photo-booth companies make a special book of the all the photo strips your guests take and let the guests sign it. This makes for a unique keepsake. With all the options a photo booth offers these days—green screen, props, backdrops—it really lets your guests have a chance to get silly and let their hair down. Your guests can take their photo strips home as well, which can double as a favor and a way for your guests to remember how much fun they had at your wedding.”

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3. Food. “Splurging on food for your wedding can really make an impression on your guests. The one thing I always hear feedback on is whether the food was good or bad. If you are using a caterer, shop around until you find the right one for you. If the food is provided by the venue you book, make sure you ask to see sample menus and go with the top tier package if you can fit it in your budget. You and your guests will be happy you did. Guests are always ravenous when cocktail hour begins and if you have a lot to offer, it will make your day more memorable.”

What to Scrimp On:

1. Flowers. “Opt for low centerpieces rather than tall ones. Or, depending on the season, incorporate fruit and vegetables. If it is winter, use pinecones. You can also use floating candles and a few floating flowers with LED lights to make a beautiful centerpiece without overusing expensive flowers. Another idea is to use personal pictures or mementos as centerpieces. For the ceremony, use candles around the altar or pretty bows to line the aisle seats. Candles are inexpensive and can be purchased anywhere. The focus will be on you and your groom anyway, not the flowers.”

2. Invitations and Ceremony Programs. “This is a great area to save money. There are so many different web sites available that can design and print invitations and programs for you. You can shop around to see which site is best for you. Keep it simple and you will keep the cost down. I have also seen a new trend of couples sending out wedding invitations by Paperless Post. This is very nontraditional, but will save you on printing and postage.”

3. Favors. “Many couples I know opt to not even hand out favors to their guests. I always think it is a nice touch, but, to be honest, how many people will use the favor with someone else’s wedding date etched on it? If you want to offer guests a favor, incorporate it into the wedding, such as offering a candy or dessert bar during the reception. You can provide small bags or boxes for guests to take some of the sweets home as their favor. You can find all types of boxes and bags that can be purchased in bulk online.”   

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